"This is beau...uuuutiful" I exclaimed looking at this culture plate.
"Ma'am, doctors like you can say that,not the patient" remarked the technician in my laboratory.
And we exchanged smiles, this was during one of those culture plate reading session which starts every morning half an hour past eight. From arranging these plates, making smears of bacterial colonies and doing biochemical reactions and filling up antibiotic sensitivity forms, not to forget attending the incessant calls from the clinicians and nurses from the wards asking for preliminary reports, well these and a lot more are done during these bustling hours which sometimes runs till noon. A few of my non medical friends tell me that there is no point in asking me how is work, things must be always busy. I do agree it is busy, but it is beautiful.
What keeps us doctors on the move? When my technician said that, I knew he was speaking out of some sort of general impression about the fraternity. Everyone around us has an opinion about us, an expectation that needs to be met.Most of you who have sworn the oath would agree with me, there are many people who would remind you of your responsibility in a way or the other, I tell take it when they do. In fact, one of the data entry operator told me last week "Patient is God" I somehow succeeded in stopping myself from giving her the look of 'Thank-You-For-Letting-Me-Know-After-Ten-Years-Of-Medicine!' One of the professors in my postgraduate days had told the class once "Being a doctor is more of an art than science". I stand by it, dealing with people is definitely an art.
When I looked at this culture plate, I thought of the bacteria that caused the arrow head golden hue due to hemolysis like you can see in the picture, what we call Streptococcus agalactiae. I thought of the pus sample from which it was isolated, I thought of the patient who was having an infection, I thought of the clinician who was treating her, I thought of helping him aid the diagnosis. I thought of the antibiotic that can be given. I thought of the possibility of the patient being cured, I thought of her not having to visit the hospital ever again. I had a series of beautiful reasons to call it 'BEAUTIFUL'.
A surgeon with a scalpel, a radiologist with a scan probe or a dentist with a drill will know what I am talking about. We find beauty in the most absurd things, don't we? A lot of medical drama television programs make it appear like a classic adventure or a stress filled drama but in reality it is much beyond that. To make it all normal, to live that every moment of hope, of being of help to an another human being requires much more than having some empathy and compassion. Every patient teaches us something which helps us help another, that is how this amazing scheme of things works. We are like anyone else, inquisitive and eager about what we do. This is beyond an average man's understanding,probably and most importantly because we are one of those few professionals who find beauty in the pain of someone else. The next time I see something interesting, I shall be careful with my choice of words ;-)